“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
Prayer is essential part of our life. Some call it a means of communication between God and human. Others consider it as a sign of people’s dependent on God. According to the Constitution of the Eudist Fathers, “they (the Eudists) look upon prayer as their ‘first and most important affair.’ (#37)”
In the Gospel, Jesus used a parable to teach about prayer. This can be considered as an extension of the parable of the widow and the dishonest judge (18:1-8) which is also about prayer. In the first parable, Jesus focused on persistent prayer, while in the second parable, he emphasized humility when praying.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus presented two types of prayer. First, the prayer of the Pharisee, who considered himself righteous, is full of self-centeredness and presumptuousness. Second, the prayer of the tax collector, who considered himself as a sinner, is full of repentance, asking for forgiveness.
Last Sunday’s Gospel, 29th Sunday, talks about the quantity of prayer, that is, how many times one ought to prayer – unceasingly and persistently. Today, Jesus talks about the quality of prayer – one should pray with humility. The Pharisee, seemingly, prayed as if he does not need God in his life. He does everything without the help of God. He could fast twice a week and pay his tithes without mentioning God’s grace. But the tax collector prayed by asking for mercy. His prayer indicates that he knows that he is dependent on God’s mercy and love. His prayer is a sign that he needs God because he cannot do anything without God. He said, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus pour out the content of his heart. He was grieving. But at the end he still said, not my will but your will Father. Even Jesus shows his dependence on his Father. Mary, during the annunciation resigned to the will of God, “May it be done according to your word.”
A true pray-er should be humble enough to acknowledge his/her dependence on God who is the source of all graces. One should not forget that even our prayer is not our initiative but the Holy Spirit inspires us each day to pray from our hearts.
Prayer: Lord, our source of grace, give us a heart that could pray with humility. Allow us to say in every prayer, “Your will be done.”